Guns Akimbo (2019)

guns akimbo poster

Internet troll Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) messes with the wrong organisation when he prods the beast that is Skizm, a ‘game’ that pits strangers against each other in on-street, very real combat, while online spectators cheer for their favourites. Deciding to take revenge in their own unique way, Miles is kidnapped and wakes with guns bolted through his hands and the instruction: kill the top player, Nix, or else.

I can only describe this movie as a cross between Saw and Nerve by way of Doom and the likes. It is relentless: in action, in violence, in ick factor. It’s not awful by any means, and I feel a bit bad downrating it when it pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin. However, the whole forced surgery thing was a huge no for me, and the tone is just nasty.

Half-watching, I stuck with it and actually enjoyed the middle section a lot more. It’s not that anything lightens, more that the pace gets so manic that everything becomes very cartoony. I generally don’t have too much issue with movie violence, but turns out this ‘unreal’, computer-game quality is what I expect. Alas, things get worse again by the end, notably a man taking a hammer to a woman’s face. Urm, nope!

Daniel Radcliffe does seem to be determined to distance himself as far as possible from the spectre of Harry Potter with roles like this. He’s actually pretty decent in it – a ‘normal’ guy thrown into a nightmare. I think the plot could have been stronger, but clearly that wasn’t the point. It’s all about the visuals (was this based on a comic? Feels like it) and the madcap pace.

So no, not really recommended, but saying that there are times when ultra-daft, super-violent nonsense – with a pretty great soundtrack – can kind of hit the spot. If that moment occurs for you, have at it.

Released: 28th February 2020
Viewed: 19th June 2020
Running time: 98 minutes
Rated: 15

My rating: 5/10

The Gentlemen (2019)

gentlemen poster

Having built up an empire as the marijuana king of Britain, American Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), has decided it’s time to retire and sell on the business. But this being a Guy Ritchie movie, things are rarely so straightforward. A raid on one of the production facilities, a possible war with the local heroin manufacturers, and a bit of revenge from a tabloid editor he snubbed…

The last gives rise to the framing of this tale, as sleazy investigator Hugh Grant decides there’s more money to be made taking his research to the source for blackmail money, rather than a far smaller fee from the newspaper. Grant is playing against type wonderfully, as he tries to persuade Mickey’s right hand man (Charlie Hunnam), that he has all the ins and outs of the twisted story in place.

The tale weaves brilliantly between the story-telling, flashbacks, and side-stories, rarely letting up on the pace or entertainment levels. There’s plenty of action, bucket loads of laughs, and soooo much swearing! If you’ve seen Snatch or Lock, Stock... you pretty much know the kind of thing you’re getting into, but if anything I’d say this one is better.

The cast is spot on, and all seem to be thoroughly enjoying their parts. Shout out to Colin Farrell’s ‘Coach’, best role he’s had in years. The soundtrack sweeps you up in the mood. And the story twists and turns towards its purpose in a brilliantly non-linear fashion that is nothing short of gleeful.

It’s sweary and politically incorrect, and rude and has you rooting for one bunch of criminals over others. Brilliant 🙂

Released: 1st January 2020
Viewed: 3rd January 2020
Running time: 113 minutes
Rated: 18

My rating: 9/10

Knives Out (2019)

knives out poster

When multi-millionaire crime author, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), is found dead following his 85th birthday party, it seems as though every member of his family might have had reason to dispatch of the old man. The only problem is, he clearly committed suicide. Can famous detective, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig with a slightly iffy Southern drawl), sort through the clues to uncover the truth?

And perhaps more to the point, when we the audience are surprisingly shown the actual events relatively early in the movie, can the proceeding twists and turns keep the suspense going?!

From the moment I saw the trailer I wanted to see this movie, and I am so relieved it didn’t let me down. It’s dark and funny and twisty and stylish. The surprise early reveal allows for something that bit more complex and ‘clever’ than a straight whodunit, and I loved every tangled moment of it!

The whole cast seems to be having a blast, camping up their character’s worst qualities. Powerful business woman Jamie Lee Curtis and her emasculated husband, Don Johnson; wannabe spiritual guru Toni Collette; the bitter eldest, forever in dad’s shadow, played by Michael Shannon. And the various, spoiled grandkids, headed up by a deliciously dionysian Chris Evans in that sweater. And in the middle of it all, the enigmatic detective and the poor naive nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas), caught up in the middle of everything.

I thoroughly recommend this movie. It’s the right mix of camp and style – oh, that colour-palette (more subtle than a Cluedo board, but the game’s name check made me think it was a nod) – and clever story telling, all in a darkly humorous package.

Released: 27th November 2019
Viewed: 13th December 2019
Running time: 130 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 9/10

A Simple Favour (2018)

A Simple Favour poster

Single mom Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) has a seemingly perfect life: bubbling with energy, running half the school committees, and host of her own cookery vlog. But one day she meets fellow mom Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) and finds a new level of ‘perfect’. Which woman has it better? Perhaps their growing friendship – however odd Emily seems – might have improved things for both women, until the day that Emily disappears.

I absolutely loved this movie, despite a few inconsistencies in tone. The beginning and end are definitely black comedy, but in the middle things just get a fair bit darker and less fun. There are twists I did and didn’t seem coming, but through it all I was completely engrossed.

There was something here that made me think, too. The two ‘perfect’ lives are of course anything but, and the slow reveal of secrets is very well done. That said, it’s easy to see why Stephanie finds Emily so inspiring – I, too, was eyeing up Blake Lively’s wardrobe and music tastes and overall chicness, and thinking ‘wow’. Ironically, on-screen hubby isn’t quite up to Ryan Reynolds standards, but amusingly enough her tipple of choice is Aviation Gin…  😉

This is one to see without spoilers, but definitely one to see, I reckon. Like the character’s lives it’s not quite perfect, but it’s a cleverly done thriller with eye candy to spare.

Released: 20th September 2018
Viewed: 23rd September 2018
Running time: 117 minutes
Rated: 15

My rating: 9/10

Free Fire (2016)

Two Irishmen, Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley) go to a warehouse in Boston to buy guns for the fight against the English (this is 1978). Brokering the deal is Justine (Brie Larson), who brings these IRA members together with gun runner, Vernon (Sharlto Copley), and his hired help including Ord (Armie Hammer) and Martin (Babou Ceesay).

With high levels of aggression on both sides, the opening of the movie is a teeter-totter of anticipation as to just what it will take to set things off – and from trailers and title, you know that things ARE going to go off – quite literally with a bang!

I’m in two minds about this film. On the one hand, if you don’t like it you’re going to really hate it as it’s one set, practically one scene – well, one long gunfight. On the other, it’s a rather fascinating masterclass at how something so slight can be drawn out into a full 90 minute film, constantly ebbing and flowing on the tension. Throw in a lot of laughs, spiced with several out and out ‘urgh! Gross!’ moments, and more swearing than a response to a Trump tweet, and this is a much more entertaining piece than the slender set-up would have you believe possible.

Released: 31st March 2017
Viewed: 12th April 2017
Running time: 90 minutes
Rated: 15

My rating: 6.5/10

War On Everyone (2016)

Bob (Michael Peña) and Terry (Alexander Skarsgård) are cops. But given that their motto is, “Let’s go f*@! some scumbags!” I think you can imagine how closely they choose to follow the letter of the law. I mean, they could arrest you, but on the other hand that’s a very nice widescreen TV you’ve got there…

Of course, the problem with blackmailing and beating up bad guys is that sooner or later one of them will work for a bigger bad guy, who might not take kindly to anyone interfering with their nefarious doings. Without meaning to, it’s not long before Terry and Bob are tangled up in far more than they first imagined…

I went into War On Everyone expecting daft and a little ‘outrageous’ fun, and I think that’s exactly what I got. I was quite surprised, then, to see the outpouring of hate for the movie from various reviewers! Sure, it’s foul-mouthed and full of random and bloody violence. Yes, it’s incredibly un-politically correct. But hey – it’s also really funny, which is kind of the point!

The two leads are clearly having an absolute ball, and it shows: Peña as the smart family man, Skarsgard the Glen Campbell-obsessed singleton who might have drunk most of his brain cells away. But rather than the usual buddy cop movie cliche of the pair being ever at odds, they are instead the closest of friends, sharing an outlook on life being there for the grabbing, and willing to stick up for each other despite their antics getting them into increasing bother.

The rest of the cast are also good, from Paul Ritter as the police chief who has to tell them off but really doesn’t care that much, to a wonderfully off the wall performance from Caleb Landry Jones (weirdly reminding me of Sigourney Weaver, in appearance, and perhaps David Bowie in wardrobe!) as one of the bad guys. Main baddie, Theo James, is rather bland in comparison, but kudos to the director for the five minute shot of his bare torso walking towards the camera. For no real purpose, but it does balance out the scenes in the strip club, somewhat 😉

The tone is perhaps a little uneven – it’s practically slapstick at the beginning, and really quite dark by the end – but if you enjoyed Seven Psychopaths (2012), In Bruges (2008) (confusingly, both directly by Martin McDonagh, as opposed to War On Everyone‘s John Michael McDonagh – whose back catalogue is no predictor of this one at all!), or The Nice Guys (2016) and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), then this might find a similar funny spot in you.

Released: 7th October 2016
Viewed: 14th October 2016
Running time: 98 minutes
Rated: 15 (and pushing it!)

My rating: 7/10 – f’ed up to heck, but my twisted sense of humour liked it!